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ViewSonic ViewBook Pro early review: Apes Apple's laptop, thwarts thieves

The ViewBook Pro's design is strongly reminiscent of that of a certain Apple computing device, but, ironically, it also sports a number of anti-theft features

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Luke Westaway
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It's all too easy to imagine the scene: a thousand university-bound teenagers unwrap their going-away gifts, only to find they didn't get the present they'd asked for. Their shocked parents look on in confusion: "But, darling, I'm sure you said you wanted a something Book Pro?" With the advent of the ViewSonic ViewBook Pro, this horrific scenario could soon be playing out across our leafy land.

It's true that the ViewBook Pro borrows more than a little from Apple's aesthetic, but, at about £700, it's around half the price of a mid-range MacBook Pro, and it has a few of its own tricks hidden up its shiny sleeves, so it definitely merits investigation. Hit 'Continue' to join us as we put the ViewBook Pro under the CNET UK microscope, and run through some of the laptop's coolest features.

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The ViewBook Pro's design is just as Apple-influenced as its name. Check out the aluminium casing and trendy black keyboard, for example. The ViewBook Pro weighs in at just 1.6kg, and is a slender 32cm wide, making it a very mobile machine. ViewSonic claims that you'll manage 12 hours of battery life if you use the optional 'extra battery' module, although we're taking that claim with a fistful of salt until our full review gets under way.
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The ViewBook Pro's keyboard is comfortable, and the keys themselves are responsive, with a satisfying bounce that makes typing at speed a pleasant affair. But the keys do have a tendency to rattle slightly if you're typing with gusto -- something that might garner you disapproving looks if you're using the machine on public transport.
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The trackpad supports multi-touch gestures -- a useful bonus for Web browsing. When using just one finger, however, we found that the touchpad wasn't very sensitive to a light touch, which became rather frustrating. There's also a fingerprint scanner to safeguard your valuable data from burglars and their ilk, but -- believe it or not -- that's not the ViewBook Pro's most interesting piece of anti-theft technology...
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Nestled in the same housing as the main power button is the 'anti-steal mode' button. Enabling this mode will lock down your computer, and prompt the ViewBook Pro to sound a thief-baffling alarm should your laptop detect that it's been picked up or moved. It's not a feature we can see being used particularly often, and we had a problem whereby the PC went into sleep mode while the alarm was sounding. We were unable to get the system to wake up again so we could stop the darn thing. That said, the mode does have some serious prank potential.
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The ViewBook Pro sports a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen. It looks pretty ace with the brightness turned up.
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You get both VGA and HDMI outputs, for all your media-managing needs. We tested the ViewBook Pro with some 720p video and it played like a dream, although the hardware wasn't up to handling 1080p content.
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The ViewBook Pro is available now for around £700. Stay tuned for our full review, coming soon.

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